Challenge: Go Vegetarian
Charity: Animals Asia
Total £ accrued: £10
Status: Still feeling optimistic
The First Challenge: Becoming Vegetarian
When I was thinking of a new year’s resolution, this seemed to be the obvious one and although I couldn’t bring myself to commit for a whole year, I’m hoping this 1 month challenge can create a positive habit that trickles into the rest of my year.
But why was this the obvious choice?
I had a hectic year in 2016, I split up with my ex in March and at the same time this happened, I was studying for an exam, applying for a promotion, overwhelming with work and I suddenly had to move out and find somewhere else to live.
It was in the midst of this that my friend’s wonderful parents decided to put me up, it was only meant to be for 2 weeks whilst me and my ex sorted things out, but here I still am 10 months later!
What has this got to do with going vegetarian? Well my newly adopted family are a vegetarian family, and before I lived with them, I ate a LOT of meat.
When I first moved in with them, I didn’t realise how being a vegetarian could have a positive effect on my life and the world around me. Hopefully by the end of this month’s post, I will be able to tell you.
So, what if I slip up?
I can tell you that I slipped up on Day 1 when I had lasagna twice in one day! And one of those times was with my vegetarian family who wanted to accommodate me on New Year’s Day at our pre-planned dinner and thought I would appreciate a (pre-made) real mince lasagna (which I did, I can’t lie!). And I slipped up twice more due to other pre-planned dinners and parties that were not prepared for me to suddenly be vegetarian.
*Hint: warn people in advance if you are planning to do this!
So I spoke to a colleague at work, who also happened to be doing the same thing and he said he was giving £5 to charity every time he slips up. So I am doing the same. For each day that I eat meat £5 will go to Animals Asia. At the end of this month you will see how well I have done and/or how much I have raised for my charity of this month.
How can eating less meat help?
Here are four of the reasons why I think being vegetarian, or at least reducing the amount of meat that I eat can contribute positively to the world, as well as my own life.
1. Healthy Lifestyle
One of the first things I noticed when I first reduced meat from my diet was weight loss. I hasten to add that becoming vegetarian does not guarantee you weight loss and also does not guarantee you a healthy diet! If you chose the easy options and opt for chips and chocolate every day (like I did at one point) you may find yourself putting on as much as you over at christmas. Looking up my google facts, I did find some interesting research that claims that going veggie is the best way to lose weight.
Having said this, weight loss was not at the top of my priorities (although it was a welcome side effect), in addition to this I wanted to feel good and feed my body the nutrients that it deserves.
Choosing the vegetarian option always meant more veg for me, and as a result, hitting that 5 a day target was easy for me.
Other interesting health claims include; vegetarians live longer due to lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels, reduction in risk of cancer & lower risk of several chronic diseases.
Read more veggie facts here, and let me know how it has affected you in the comments.
2. Positive contribution to the Environment
The production of meat has a heavy impact on the environment due to the masses amount of land, food, energy and water required. According to a report the Worldwatch Institute, 51% of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. One expert says that giving up beef will reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up cars.
For me, the world I live in is such a beautiful place that needs to be cultivated and cared for. If we don’t do anything now to contribute to a better environment overall, we may not have some of our world’s wonders in the future.
3. Economically Efficient
The world we live in is expanding quickly and we currently breed twice as many animals as we did 30 years ago to feed us. These animals require vast amounts of food and water and produce mountains of waste. In an acre of land, you could potentially grow 20,000 potatoes but in the same space you can only produce 165 lbs of beef. The number of people that could be fed off of the food that we feed to livestock is unbelievable. This just ups the potential to end poverty world-wide.
Additionally, if you take into account the amount of meat that is thrown away (of beef alone it is apx. £260,000,000 worth of it), it just doesn’t make economical sense.
4. Animal Cruelty
In the U.S. when stunners aren’t effective on hogs, they are sometimes sent to scalding tanks whilst they are still alive & conscious. Similarly, poultry is not included in the Humane Slaughter Act, so it is not required to stun them at all and they can also be sent to scalding tanks whilst they are still alive.
We are all aware of battery farming where chickens are crammed into the smallest space and all of their lives they cannot roam freely, and dairy farming where cows are genetically manipulated to produce 12 times more milk than they would naturally and are forcibly inseminated to keep them constantly producing milk.
And surely we have heard the horror stories of the Chinese dog eating festival where in some cases dogs have been skinned alive. All of these things are pointlessly cruel and for us to then throw away approximately 34,000 tonnes of meat each year it just seems unnecessary.
You can learn more about the future of our food here.
I do believe that nature has a food cycle and we are part of that, but we are intelligent beings and we have been given the opportunity to eat both as a herbivore or a carnivore. If an animal must give it’s life to feed us, we should not waste it’s life by throwing tonnes of it away; I think we need to show gratitude to nature for the gift it has given us.
I am going to use the factors above to motivate me as I start my journey this month. Continue on my journey and discover, the easy way, some of the things I learnt the hard way.